UK Athletics

Eilish McColgan (coach: Liz Nuttall, club: Dundee Hawkhill) and Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher, Richmond and Zetland) were crowned British 10,000m champions as the GB & NI women took European Cup team victory and the men silver on an eventful night at the University of Birmingham track.

It was a busy evening packed with breath-taking action as the home athletes vied for national titles, European Cup points and Olympic places. McColgan, Scott and Jessica Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn) all made sure of automatic selection for Tokyo but, though he finished as second Briton, Mo Farah (Gary Lough Newham & Essex Beagles) was outside of the qualifying standard he required.

In the Women’s A race, an amazing late charge brought overall victory for McColgan as she clocked 31:19.21 to pip Israel’s Selamawit Teferi (31:19.35 PB) right on the line, while an emotional Judd made sure of her Tokyo spot as she finished close behind with a PB of 31:20.84.

Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin, Swansea) also produced a personal best to finish fourth in 31:43.57, with compatriot Amy-Eloise Markovc (Chris Fox, Wakefield) fifth in 32:04.19. The six-strong GB & NI team was completed by Samantha Harrison in ninth (Vince Wilson, Charnwood) with 32:38.99 and Jenny Nesbitt (Chris Jones, Cardiff) 12th in 32:48.48. Following after, Charlotte Arter (Cardiff) clocked 32:17.40 for seventh place, a time which was inside the Wales qualifying standard for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

McColgan had come into the race as the only member of the British team to have gone under the Olympic qualifying standard of 31:25.00 and the home quartet of McColgan, Judd, Markovc, and Ockenden had allowed Teferi to pull away.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 27: A portrait of Eilish McColgan a member of the Great Britain Olympic team during the Team GB Kitting Out ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic Games on June 27, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The Israeli was first through the halfway mark in 15:40.06, a four-second lead over the four Britons, and she established what had looked like being an unassailable lead.  With Markovc and Ockenden having fallen back, Judd decided to up the pace entering the final kilometre, albeit still 15 seconds in arrears of Teferi.

McColgan went with her team-mate and, covering the closing 1000m in 2:51, including a final 200m of just under 31 seconds, surged through to take the win and secure an appearance at what will be her third Olympics, 30 years after her mother – and coach – Liz won the 10,000m world title in Tokyo.

After the race, Eilish admitted to having had her mother’s words ringing in her ears:

“She said don’t leave it to the last lap because you don’t want to miss out and it turns into a 400m race rather than a 10,000m,” she said. “I did have that in the back of my mind so I just kept reminding myself to keep calm over the last couple of laps because training is going better than ever and then there’s a lot of pressure coming into this because when you are training so well. You have one opportunity to try and knit it together on the day so I suppose there was a part of me that was like ‘don’t mess this up’. I’m absolutely buzzing.”

GB & NI topped the team standings, with Italy taking silver and Poland bronze.

The Men’s A race marked Farah’s first track 10,000m contest since winning the 2017 World Championships title in 2017 but the reigning Olympic champion admitted to frustration after the race at an ankle injury which hampered his performance.

As France’s European champion Morhad Amdouni took victory in 27:23.29 ahead of Belgium’s Bashi Abdi (27:24.41) and Spaniard Carlos Mayo (27:25.00) – all PBs – Scott came through to take seventh in 27:49.94. His time on the night was outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 27:28.00 but, with already having run 27:10.40 in America earlier this year, finishing in the home top two made sure of his place.

“It’s a shame not to win the race overall but I just wanted to get the job done against the British guys,” he said.

Farah was one place behind Scott in 27:50.64 and said: “It is what it is. The last 10 days hasn’t been great but, no matter what I’ve achieved in my career, it was important that I come to the trials. It would have been easy not to show but I did show and I dug in deep. 

“With 15 laps to go I was hurting hard. I just had to keep fighting, keep digging in and finish in the top two.”

Third Briton was Emile Cairess (Alan Storey, Leeds City), who had the race of his life in the 10th place with a PB of 27:53.19 which is also inside the Team England Commonwealth qualifying standard. Matt Leach (Phil O’Dell, Bedford & County) was 13th in 28:22.33, while there was a PB for Kristian Jones one place back in 28:23.50 (Chris Jones, Swansea). The other member of the GB & NI team, Jake Smith (James Thie, Cardiff) did not finish but Britain still finished second in the team standings behind France and ahead of Spain.

Ellis Cross (Mick Woods, Aldershot) was the top British finisher in the Men’s European Cup B Race as he came through to clock 29:10.64, his third-fastest performance over the distance.

Nigel Martin (Norman Poole, Sale) was 13th in a personal best of 29:22.28, with Omar Ahmed (David Lawrence, Birchfield) also producing the fastest 10,000m of his career with  29:25.94 for 14th.

Italy’s Pietro Riva produced a dominant performance in the Men’s European Cup B Race to win in 28:25.70, with Iceland’s Hlynur Andrésson second in 28:36.64 and Estonia’s Tiidrek Nurme third in 28:37.61. The top four all clocked personal bests.

Sally Ratcliffe (Geoff Watkin, Aldershot, Farnham & District) was the first British athlete home in the Women’s European Cup B race, as she came home in eighth place in a time of 34:39.53, while Elisha Tait (Dean Miller, Gateshead) clocked 35:40.54 for 14th and Kate Drew (Charlotte Fisher, Taunton) finished 16th in 36:36.99.

Victory went to Tereza Hrochová of the Czech Republic as she won an entertaining battle with Anna Arnaudo to win in a time of exactly 33 minutes as her Italian rival came home in 33:02.70. Poland’s Angelica Mach was third in 33:26.29 as the top seven finishers all recorded personal bests.

In the first 10,000m contest of the meeting, Max Milarvie (Mark Pollard, Victoria Park) made an impressive debut over the distance on the track when winning a tight battle with Paulos Surafel (Thames Valley).

Milarvie was outside the qualifying standard for this summer’s European U23 Championships but kicked away to take victory in a time of 29:22.78, with Surafel clocking 29:25.62. Jonathan Escalante-Phillips (Cambridge & Coleridge) was third in 29:32.51.

The evening’s schedule began with a men’s 1500m Para contest, which was won convincingly by Owen Miller (Steven Doig, Fife) in 3:58.68. The 2019 WPA World Championships sixth placer came home ahead of Steven Bryce (Victoria Park), who clocked 4:07.16 and the 4:07.43 of James Hamilton (Mark Kirk, Ballymena Runners).